Jumwa abandons aide, withdraws four lawyers in murder case

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and Geoffrey Otieno Okuto

Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa (right) and her co-accused Geoffrey Otieno Okuto. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A Mombasa court has adjourned the murder trial against Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa after she allegedly withdrew all four lawyers representing her co-accused Geoffrey Otieno Okuto.

The two have been charged with the killing of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) supporter Jola Ngumbao during campaigns for the Ganda Ward by-election in 2019.

The four lawyers, who have now been withdrawn, have been jointly representing the two in the case whose hearing is yet to start.

But Thursday, the court was informed that lawyers Jared Magolo, Cliff Ombeta, Danstan Omari and Shadrack Wamboi will no longer represent Mr Okuto in the murder case.

The advocates told Justice Anne Onginjo, who is handling the case, that they had received firm instructions from Ms Jumwa to only represent her in the case.

Surety withdrawn

In what appears to be a serious falling-out, the court has also been informed that firm instruction have been issued to discharge Mr Okuto’s surety, exposing him to arrest and detention should he fail to find another surety.

“Mr Okuto was served with the application seeking to withdraw the surety, and he is aware (of it),” Mr Omari said.

The court also heard that one of Ms Jumwa’s children stood surety for Mr Okuto.

On his part, Mr Okuto asked the court to give him more time to hire another advocate to represent him in the case.

“Since Ms Jumwa has instructed the lawyers not to represent me, I ask the court to give me more time to look for an advocate. I request for the court’s indulgence,” he said.

Hard faces

The two wore hard faces when they sat in the dock on Thursday. Previously, they would smile at each other while in the dock.

After the case was adjourned, Ms Jumwa walked out while Mr Okuto stayed behind and spent at least 15 minutes talking to the court clerk.

Previously,   the two would walk out together and occasionally glance at each while in the dock, it was all smiles.

But on Thursday, they both minded their own business. 

With Mr Okuto now without legal representation, the judge had no option but to adjourn the case since in murder trials, suspects cannot be tried without an advocate.

The State, through Mr Hassan Abdi, asked the court to ensure that the trial is not derailed.

More than five witnesses had turned up to give their evidence. Some of them had travelled from Nairobi. They were, however, refunded their money due to the circumstance that the court found itself in.

State witnesses

The case was supposed to be heard in three consecutive days with the court taking four witnesses per day. The prosecution has lined up 32 witnesses.

Ms Jumwa and Mr Okuto have been charged that on October 15, 2019, they killed Mr Ngumbao. The two denied the charge when they first appeared in court last year.

Mr Ngumbao, who was an uncle of Ganda Ward MCA Reuben Katana, was shot dead when Ms Jumwa, Mr Okuto and their supporters allegedly stormed the ward rep’s home and caused chaos.

Ms Jumwa is also facing corruption charges before a magistrate’s court in Mombasa. In the case before Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti, the State has accused the legislator of conspiring to defraud the Malindi National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) of Sh19 million.

She is also facing the charges of conflict of interest, money laundering and acquisition of proceeds of crime. She is out on a Sh5 million bond on this charge.